In the last few years, there has been a sharp increase in navy commanders being relieved. It’s been running at over ten a year, up from 6-8 in the late 1990s, and a bit less than that in the 1980s. Only a small percentage of reliefs have to do with professional failings (a collision or serious accident, failing a major inspection or just continued poor performance.) Most reliefs were, and still are, for adultery, drunkenness or theft. With more women aboard warships, there have been more reliefs for, as sailors like to put it, “zipper failure.” There may have been more than are indicated, as sexual misconduct is often difficult to prove, and a commander who is having zipper control problems often has other shortcomings as well. Senior commanders traditionally act prudently and relieve a commander who demonstrates a pattern of minor problems and who they now “lack confidence in.”
I believe that I learned more about leadership- – good and bad – during my short time in the Army. There was one Army captain that we’d have followed off a cliff if ordered to do so; knowing he’d be right there with us. He wasn’t a “pal” but we respected him to the hilt. He was an ex-Marine (I know, I know), and a Green Beret in Vietnam who had been a sergeant, if any of that matters.
There was also one staff sgt most of us would have been glad to push off a cliff.
The good and the bad – I saw it all. Most of those above me were good people. Like anything there were both ends of the bell curve.
Most of us can say that when we have come across great leaders we can’t readily identify the “why” but the “what”. In the military the thought occurred to me that all of this is compressed – the good ones and the bad ones are more readily apparent and in a shorter time.
And in this post, Marine Commandant Joe Dunford talking to some US Naval Academy Midshipmen identifies it succinctly:
“With regard to leadership, with the midshipmen over here, you know, it’s clearly something that you can’t wrap up in 30 seconds. But I guess what I would say to you is as you make the transition – and I think a number of you are making it this year – I think you probably have been told many times, and I’ll just remind you – it’s no longer about you.”
The Navy has pulled an admiral from the command seat.
Verrry interesting, but no relevant info beyond the words “inappropriate leadership judgement.” One wonders about how such an event develops, and who it is that looks at the information available and decides it is time for a change of command temporary reassignment at this level.
Any of our august group have more for us to digest? Maybe it’s just about the strawberries…